Hamlet Mill
Hamlet Mill (also called the Milton Mill) was a post mill that stood on the south side of Avenue Road by the junction with Park Road (opposite the methodist church). It was in the area known as Milton being on the Milton Hall (now Nazareth House) Estate that belonged to the Scratton Family. Hamlet Mill is also called the Milton Mill. The mill also served the area known as the Hamlet (now Station Road, Westcliff) before that area was cut in two by the railway line and so it was called the Hamlet Mill. The mill gives its name to Hamlet Road on the north side of the railway. The mill can be traced back to at least 1299 when a "new mill" was built on the site for £15 5s. 10d. The mill was involved in a turbulent period of English history following the reign of Richard II (1367-1400). Richard had been deposed and imprisoned by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke in 1399 whereupon Henry was crowned Henry IV at Westminster Abbey. Richard later died in mysterious circumstances while imprisoned. This event would later form the basis of the Wars of the Roses (or 'cousins war' as it was called at the time. The Duke of Exeter, a half brother of Richard II, was involved in an unsuccessful plot against the new King, Henry, and tried to escape the country. He fled to Essex and took a ship to the Continent but was driven back by strong winds. He was then captured at Hamlet Mill where he had sought refuge and was said to have been dining with John of Prittlewell. The villagers took him to Pleshey Castle (near Chelmsford). At Pleshey, the late Duke of Gloucester's mother-in law had him beheaded. It was Exeter who had seized and murdered Gloucester on Richard's orders and the mother-in-law took her revenge fearing that Henry might be persuaded to spare him otherwise. Her servants are said to have tortured and torn his body with barbarous cruelty before his execution. To north of the mill was an open space (with a pond) where cricket was played in the 19th century (hence the names of Park Road and the Cricketers pub). Records show that the mill was being occupied in 1848 by Lazarus and Company who would have been leasing the property from the landowner, Daniel Robert Scratton. Scratton's sale of land in 1869 was a key event in the town's history. He was then retiring as Lord of The Manor and moving to Devon after the coming of the railway line in 1856. Much of the land between Hamlet Court Road and the High Street was sold to Thomas Dowsett in the sale. Scratton had been a popular figure who did much that was in the town and its people's best interest. However, the one act for which he did receive some local criticism was the sale of the land where Hamlet Mill was situated (as part of the 1869 sale). The mill had been a popular landmark and locals were annoyed when it was subsequently demolished as a result of the sale. In 1874, Thomas Arnold was in occupation at the mill, presumably as a sitting tenant for the duration of his lease. In 1875, Thomas Dowsett and his partner John George Baxter (a fish merchant and co-owner of Luker's Brewery) conveyed the whole area around the mill to solicitors for sale as building plots of the 'Southend Park Estate'. A record of the sale describes the land as comprising "Avenue Road, Park Road, Park Street, Leigh Road [now London Road], Hamlet Road and Queen's Road". All but London Road and Avenue Road (which had formerly provided access to the mill) were new roads. Thus the area around the mill was sold for residential development and became the housing seen today. Hamlet Mill was included in the 1875 sale and is shown on the plans. The mill is also shown on the 1875 OS map where it is labelled as a corn mill. A building plan for alterations to the adjacent Mill House on Avenue Road is dated 1878 and this suggests the mill had been demolished by that time. Farries' history of Essex windmills gives a date of 1877 for the demolition of the mill. However Jessie K. Payne, who relied upon local historians and sources for her 1985 "Southend-on-Sea, a Pictorial History", describes the mill as remaining in use until 1880 and being finally demolished in 1892.

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